Thursday, 5 May 2016

Walking: North Seaton, Wansbeck Estuary to Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland

This is the second half of a walk from Stakeford to Newbiggin.  The previous post took me until I'd just passed the North Seaton road bridge over the River Wansbeck and had caught my first sights of the North Sea in the distance beyond the river estuary.  The full walk is mapped here.

A beached boat above the estuary.  A woman was passing in the opposite direction with her dog and she stopped to take pictures of the boat too.

She said it had been beached only three to four months ago and was gradually being buried by the sand and being destroyed by the weather.  It doesn't take long.
Her pictures may have been better than mine.  She was using her phone which had a 23 megapixel camera and a 5x zoom.  She felt a little regretful because while walking the dog she couldn't use her proper camera because that needed both hands free.  Yes, her phone is a much better camera than my camera.

I'm not complaining.  The camera on my phone is much, much better than the one on my old phone.  I need to explore it more as there are a load of settings and features that I haven't played with before.  The old phone almost had a single setting - point, click, and hope - and a much lower resolution but I was still able to take some pretty decent pictures.  In one way I felt it was a bit like a film camera.  With my digital camera I would take pictures and then crop them to exclude all the bits round the outside I didn't want.  With the old phone I had to think about framing and the content of the whole because I couldn't trim much without ending up with a very grainy result, just as I would have had to think about framing with a film camera.  With the new phone I can play around, and crop a lot more.  I am enjoying the new phone a lot.  Of course, I haven't actually got round to cropping or editing anything - everything I've been posting on the blog is just as it was when downloaded from the phone.

Right.  Digression over.  Back to the walk.

Arriving at the beach I found this.  Sand and more sand leading up to rocks and cliffs.  And a distinct lack of people.

That, if you can click on it to enlarge it, is a panorama of the beach from the cliffs at one end to the river estuary at the other and beyond it Cambois beach stretching towards Blyth.

If you could enlarge it enough you would see just how quiet the beach was.  There was me.  Just me.  Nobody else at all.  Wonderful.  Yes, it was a cold day.  But to be there and hear the sea and the wind and be walking at that point in sunshine was a marvellous experience.  I was alone with nature.  And that is a wonderful place to be.  Walking on that beach I was so completely pleased that I'd come out and ignored the rain, sleet and hail from my few minutes walk to the Metro.  In such aloneness, together with the elements, I am more at peace than at any other time and the hum and noise and constancy in my head fades.  I need to get out a lot more this year and seek to be alone with the alone.

The sandy beach comes to an end and is replaced with rocks and rock pools that would all be covered at high tide.  It was a privilege to cross them all at lowish tide and then climb up an easy bank to get to the start of the cliff path.  The cliffs there are subject to erosion.  You can see from the beach that structures have fallen as the cliff has been worn away.  The cliff top often overhangs and for a while you need to walk in the field rather than on the path because the path has moved from the top of the cliff to the bottom. 

But it's wonderful up there even in the strong wind that was blowing at that point.  I will return.  Looking down I note that at low tide I think it's possible to follow the rocks round the cliff.  But that wasn't something I was going to consider doing without having a tide table and without knowing I had plenty of time and an ebbing sea.

As I walked along the cliffs the weather changed.  It began to hail.  Oh no!  But I was very fortunate.  It only lasted a few minutes.  Later I thought how fortunate I had been, since just after I got home it snowed quite hard.  Not lovely crisp snow but slushy sleet that would have made me less happy to be outside a long way from shelter.

Given the changing weather, the walk after the cliffs to Newbiggin was a brisk one.  By the time I got there the sun was out again and I walked along the prom feeling warm and took pictures of some of the pieces in the Newbiggin Art Trail which I now learn has fifty-four pieces for me to go back and discover sometime.  I'll post the art pictures in the next blog post, but I would recommend going to see them for yourself.  It's something to do that's both pleasing and free - and totally free if you have a bus pass.  God, I love my bus pass!

Just a few pictures of Newbiggin for now.  I love the gravestone for William Buddles.  I don't think I've ever seen one that shape before.

I'll go back and explore Newbiggin better later in the year.  But for that day I'd had enough.  I'm extremely unfit and not used to walking distances.  I'd only walked 5 1/2 miles.  It's not much.  But my feet were tired so it was time to get the bus home.  I now plan to get out a lot more and walk.  It's good for my body and also for my head and my soul.  If you're in the area I can recommend the walk from Stakeford to Newbiggin via the Wansbeck estuary.  It doesn't take too long and it's very varied.  Plus, there is a good choice of cafes at the end which is always a bonus.

One last photo.  It's almost a family tradition to take photos of post boxes.   And I found this small wall mounted box to be really cute.  I don't know about post boxes.  One day I might turn into a post box geek.  It's possible.  This one is a lamp box.  It's in a wall but lamp boxes were originally designed to be attached to lamp posts.  This one, like many of the graves at the church, has been weathered over the years.  I think it's an LB212 box from early in the reign of George VI.  Of course it's not the oldest box around but I liked it.


  1. A lovely account of a lovely walk. Thank you for sharing it. I too enjoy walking alone, with just my thoughts and beautiful scenery to occupy my mind. It never ceases to amaze me how few people venture more than 100 yards beyond a car park.

    So you're a connoisseur of post boxes. What a multi-talented lady you are!

  2. I'm not really a connoisseur. I would love to be because I do like post boxes. I have to confess that a search engine is needed before I know anything much about them beyond who was reigning monarch when they were made.

    The last weeks have been great and I have several more walks to blog about. Really loving the bus pass. Next walk I need to post about between getting sidetracked by my brain is also on the Wansbeck river and also dead easy to get to from home. Get to it Clare!


Comments are welcome. But not spam and not obscenity. It's not all politeness though - religion and politics aren't banned.